There is not a week that goes by when I am not reminded multiple times about why I am so thankful that Janine Roe, and the rest of the staff at Ranken Jordan, believed in this idea when I first brought it to them. "Care beyond the bedside" is not just a slogan or phrase that is carelessly tossed around at Ranken Jordan. Every person there believes it and lives it daily as they give children their lives back. The golf program is just one of many examples seen regularly of this concept. Not long ago I was working with a young man in a wheelchair who also has limited use of his arms. Prior to coming to Ranken Jordan he had never touched a golf club and did not know how he could play golf from his wheelchair. We showed him exactly how he could do it. That first day he hit golf balls for about 30 minutes. The following week he went for the entire hour! Due to the limited use of his arms we help him swing most of the time so he does not fatigue too quickly. It was during one of these times that I hear him say very softly, "that was awesome." He followed that good shot with another one and in that same quiet voice he proclaims, "I love playing golf!"
The week following the clinic I just described I was helping another junior golfer named Zyron get ready to practice his swing. He took a couple of practice swings and we got his pulse-ox machine in the right spot so it would not interfere too much with his follow through. After that he looked at me and said, "You gotta move so you don't get hit. Now watch and learn!" I absolutely loved it! A few short weeks ago this shy young man picked up a golf club for the first time and barely spoke while he was practicing. Now he cannot get to golf fast enough and starts doing a little bit of trash talking! Seeing transformations like these are just one example of how golf is helping these incredible kids on their healing journey.
Stories like these are not uncommon. For many of the kids the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan is their first experience with golf. Many of them get that same "bug bite" that all the other golfers have had: the one that gets them addicted to the game after they hear the click and get the feel of that first well struck golf shot. I am honored, humbled, thrilled, and a whole host of other emotions, that I can be a small part of creating that addiction. Because of all the kids, families, staff, and volunteers at Ranken Jordan, May 10 will always hold special meaning for me. It is always at this time of year that I realize I do not tell those groups of people "thank you" often enough. Four years of creating smiles, laughter, memories, healing, and new golfers, and we are not slowing down any time soon!